Joshi Spotlight: Korakuen Holy War ’94

* “Seisen” translates as “Crusade”, but the Ringstarfield guy who uploaded this called it “Holy War”, which is a million times cooler so I’m going with that. The early part of the year tends to be a tad light in AJW (their big events were kinda Spring/Winter-y), but this one has some interesting stuff, though the “Interpromotional” stuff has taken a dive in favor of feuds going on within AJW itself. The Aja/Sakie duo is definitely getting pushed ahead of the “Monster Squad” team of Aja & Bull (which seems to be mostly for special appearances). We also miss Numacchi’s retirement ceremony, as the goofy comedy character only lasts about eight months or so before she’s gone.

As usual with this guy’s clips, you have to find the whole match by searching his “Videos” for the show name.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: Actually a really awesome show, with two ****-ish matches in the final slots.

* Even the narration on the YouTube video advertises this as a rarity, because Miki is “Soon Retired”. Though she wrestled a TON in 1993, it was generally untelevised “exhibition” stuff. Kumiko’s in blue, and Miki’s in this hideous green/blue Jobber Singlet, with what looks like big sneakers on.

Kumiko controls pretty easily, tossing her junior around at-will and stretching her out. Miki tries some forearms out of a hold, and copies some of Kumiko’s tosses. She does some dropkicks and the Rookie Bodyslam Finisher, but when that doesn’t work, you know she’s fucked. And sure enough, Kumiko hits a billion dropkicks before her own Bodyslam finishes at (7:43).

Rating: DUD (I mean, it’s like eight minutes of amateur-wrestling and clumsy flips)

* And we sorta say “hello” to Rie Tamada as the new “Bottom-Tier Rookie”, who starts being featured regularly from this point. With Numacchi gone and Chikako showing up more, I guess they needed another slot filled. Rie never really became a big deal, but was still active in the 2000s, moving to ARSION & stuff. Tomoko’s in her green & blue thing and this time can’t bully ASARI, ASARI’s in the yellow, Chikako’s in blue … watercolors (?), and Rie’s in a jobber-y white singlet.

ASARI gets jumped before the bell, and Tomoko hilariously just kinda looks at it and goes to the apron anyways. They seriously beat her up for half a minute before Chikako goes to the apron, with referee Mariko Yoshida not even stepping in, lol. Chikako works her over, but ASARI finally escapes Rie after three minutes and Tomoko does her “Bully the Rookie” bit. ASARI hits her pop-up knees, and Rie keeps trying rollups on Tomoko, who just smirks, sledgehammers her, and hits chops- the crowd “oohs” at some of those. We switch off a few times, usually with Tomoko easily taking Chikako apart with basic stuff, and Rie uses more Jobber-Fu on ASARI, who bridges out after a billion dropkicks, then lands on her feet after a snapmare, impressing the crowd.

Tomoko’s Slingshot Cross-Body & Elbow get two on Chikako, but she’s WAY late on a Moonsault, as Chikako’s up before she’s even on the top. But she slingshots onto BOTH opponents and hits her judo flips on Chikako, but gets caught by some weak neckbreakers that Chikako’s been trying to use lately. Leg-Trap Backdrop by Tomoko, but Rie saves. ASARI in and FINALLY hits more of her trademark offense, doing a flip kick and two Carthwheel Handspring Mule Kicks- Rie stifles the Sky Twister to a big “AWWWW!” reaction from the anticipatory crowd, and Tomoko Screwdrivers her (Backdrop to Powerbomb) to set it up properly- Sky Twister Press finishes at (14:09). Got pretty dull for the most part- Tomoko doesn’t have a great moveset, so her slowly beating on rookies isn’t very fun. Rie got a lot of shine on ASARI, probably to show her off, and then ASARI hits her crowd-popping stuff all at the end, because clearly the fans had spent the whole match wanting to see that anyways)

Rating: *1/2 (kinda too long for stuff like this, awesome as ASARI’s moves are)

* LCO is more or less permanently a duo at this point, with the “Twin Towers” team of Mita & Minami largely gone. Ito’s in the green Peter Pan gear, Minami’s in red & black (an unsual scheme for her- I like it!), Mita’s in black, and Shimoda’s in red & black. So Minami & Shimoda are in the exact same color scheme.

LCO immediately wreck Ito’s life and hit the Assisted Plancha/Dive and Electric Chair/Flying Splash combo within sixty seconds, which is a record for sure. They stretch out her bum knee for like three straight minutes, but Minami flattens Shimoda with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and lariat, being extra-screechy tonight. Shimoda’s whiny face in stretch-holds is great, and she gets hanged upside-down in the corner in a revenge-spot for LCO doing that it Ito in THEIR heat segment! Ito dropkicks her in that, and everyone brawls wildly outside, LCO taking the worst of that so bad Shimoda has chairs (and someone’s sweater!) piled on top of her. Shimoda takes over with falling clotheslines in the ring, then drags Ito all the way into the stands, but of course now it’s ITO’s turn to take over back in the ring.

Minami gets caught in another falling clothesline (kind of a tangle, there), and Mita’s in! Hair whip! Blazing Chops! Then a TERRIFYING bump as Mita slips on a superplex and Minami nearly gets her neck snapped (a woman SHRIEKS in the audience), but Mita just works through it and attacks on the floor. Piledrivers & a German get two. Everyone does rollups and Ito uses her ass as a weapon, then the Running Stomps & Turning Corner Senton on Shimoda. Mita’s in and it’s a bunch of rollups until she electric chairs Ito again. Northern Lights Suplex on Minami for two. Missile kick- foot in the ropes. Minami cross-bodies Ito by mistake, but Ito lands a huge Flying Stomp to the outside, just CRUSHING Mita on the landing (ass-first!). Flying Stomp in the ring- Shimoda saves. Another Senton hits, and Ito deals with Shimoda while Minami hits the Flying Senton… for three (18:43)!

Wait, what? LCO just fought the WWWA Champs to 38 minutes and now they lose to a thrown-together rookie/vet team? That is some weird booking especially considering the push they’re soon getting. They pretty much killed time after a hot start, but then turned things into a wild brawl and then random bits of “everyone stretches each other out”, never getting into a proper finishing surge. Like, instead of LCO hitting their good shit or even aiming for their finishers, they just got splatted by move after move in the end. Though Mita’s continued selling of the arm seems to indicate that Ito legit injured her, perhaps requiring a quick finish.

Rating: **1/2 (some good stuff, but just a bit too long, messy, and random- just not on the same page)

* The UWA Tag Champs fight each other here, interestingly enough- despite getting heavily featured throughout much of 1993, they appear to be de-emphasized around here, with fewer teamings than before. Hotta’s in red & black, and Takako’s in light blue & black.

They work fast to start, with a lot of submission reversals, but Takako gets kicked coming off the top. Hotta stuffs a submission arrogantly but gets bitten, and Takako actually tries to BOX, which Hotta “sells” with good humor. She knees Takako to death and they milk that for a while, then Hotta hits more kicks and the Rolling Kicks in the corner. They must be buds because this is like 1/5th as stiff as Hotta normally is. Takako gets her leg worked over, but she hits the “BAKAYERO!” slaps, amusing Hotta, who gives her a few cracks, too. Hotta follows her up in the corner and just beats on her like an absolute asshole, but Takako slaps away and bites the leg to toss her off.

Restholds abound, but Takako at least acts shitty while dishing them out, then dodges another Rolling Kick and tears into the leg, even dragging her outside to work it over with chairs! Hotta finally suplexes her out there to get some respite, takes an STF in the ring, then just casually hits a Tiger Driver to reverse a whip. Flying Rolling Kick misses, but she chases Takako up top… and eats the Super Chokeslam for two! She keeps going for the Takako!Panic (Flying Knee) but can’t get it, and a backdrop hold gets two for her. BAM! There it is! Hotta gets her foot in the ropes at “2”, Takako pulls her up for a chokeslam, but Hotta elbows free, hits a spinning elbow when Takako runs at her, and it’s a Pyramid Driver for the easy pin at (14:39).

Very, very lazy match by their standards, with mostly “resting”, “light brawling” and crowd stuff to fill space before Hotta pulls out the “Randy Savage Finish” of hitting a couple moves to win after eating someone’s best stuff. But the character stuff was fun, as few wrestlers are as entertaining when doing BS filler as Takako is.

Rating: **1/2 (good enough, but they were obviously working light on a more minor show)

* A rematch from last year’s Grand Prix, in which one of Sakie’s lucky underdog wins came against Yamada. Apparently the only way to win is to submit or knock your opponent out. Yamada’s in white/silver, & Sakie’s in her paint-splatter singlet. How Sakie plans on beating a UWF-style wrestler when she has no submissions and only a weak Savate Kick is beyond me. And of course the result is spoiled in the description, lol.

As expected, Yamada kicks Sakie’s ass to start, casually knocking her around with boots, but Sakie draws the biggest reaction for a surprise mule kick to the head that staggers her. They finally settle into restholds, Sakie working the leg. Yamada bludgeons her in the corner and hits the snap suplex- a stiff shot to the back and we’re in a headlock & front facelock to kill more time. Though give Yamada credit- she looks like she’s really cranking that stuff on to choke her out. Sakie gets up at “7” from the choke, so Yamada plasters her with backdrops and a kick right to the face. Sakie sells that like death, but dodges a Flying Enzuigiri and Germans her to buy some time. I’m really digging how she’s staggering around or flopping over like she’s just desperate to not die, whereas Yamada is so confident & collected about everything. Sakie uses Savate Kicks to harry her and plants the Uranage after some struggle. Yamada finally reverses & escapes but Sakie hits a dive.

Sakie hits a superplex, but a spinkick puts her down and they’re both out. They haul up to a double-slap and now it’s a double-count, and the crowd is legit INTO IT- they got ’em. Sakie spams weak kicks but Yamada handily controls with some stiff shots. She manages some chokes to hold Yamada down, and hits Rolling Butterfly Suplexes to briefly press the advantage. Looking as bagged as ’91 Andre, she climbs to the second rope and hits another Savate Kick, and some more kicks get an “8”. It’s kinda funny watching Sakie, not a striker, hit kicks because they’re just running boots to the head instead of martial-arts-style heel/shin-kicks. Yamada fights back with her own kicks, doing Enzuigiris (carefully timing them because Sakie isn’t popping up in the “Toyota-Style”). Sakie tries to fight her off the top three times as the crowd gets excited, finally eating an elbow, but she yanks Yamada off TWICE MORE before a Flying Enzuigiri can hit her! Dead fish flop and she’s up at “8”, and manages a slap to stay in the game.

Sakie dumps Yamada, but gets caught on the dive this time, eating a kick to the chest! Enzuigiri misses and the crowd FREAKS when Sakie hits another choke, thinking another upset is nigh, and they roll all over the ring to milk the drama until they tumble into the ropes on the other side. Yamada hiptosses out of an Uranage and kicks Sakie’s face off in the ropes, but when Yamada gets too cocky… URANAGE AND ANOTHER CHOKE! This time they tumble outside and Sakie hangs onto it out there, really showing her desperation. Yamada starts throwing kicks back in the ring, just pasting her, but Sakie slaps back and throws a shock Savate Kick- desperate, she goes back to the choke, but Yamada gets out and throws on her own as time starts counting down, so Yamada backdrops Sakie onto her FACE, and we’re done at (30:00). Yamada congratulates Sakie’s corpse at the end, hauling it up and hugging it to show props (Sakie falling down the second someone’s not holding her up is great). Ladies and gentlemen, you have your “Future Ace”.

Holy shit I was actually dreading this given I knew the ending in advance, and was fearing all this time-killing, but this was awesome. Instead of just restholds, they sold the exhaustion of the moment “All Japan” style and that always works much better. Sakie’s obviously being bagged was hilariously apparent but also part of the story, as she desperately fires off a few strikes to keep up the advantage here and there, then takes a breather. She has no finisher and Yamada does in this scenario, so Yamada fires back at-will, but keeps getting reversed- Sakie is more “desperate and fiery” than “good” at this point and it works for that. Her going back to the choke repeatedly is a great “desperate rookie” move, and the fact that the All-Pacific Champ couldn’t finish her in thirty minutes counts as a huge push for Sakie. Yamada carried a lot of the day with her selling and feeding comebacks, but you felt she was wrestling with one hand tied behind her back- she has a dizzying array of moves, but was clearly wrestling to show off Sakie instead- a real pro.

Rating: **** (astonishingly great for a match I was kinda dreading. A lot of repeated spots and long bouts of selling, but it all worked)

* !!!!!! Now THIS is an interesting tag team match! Bull & Kyoko were part of a stable back in the day, and were huge rivals of their opponents for much of 1992. Meanwhile, the other team actually hate EACH OTHER and have a legendary rivalry going back a bit, and which will extend further. Hell, Bull & Aja were typically a duo through most of ’93, as well. Aja’s in red, Manami’s in black, Kyoko’s in yellow & pink, and Bull’s in that crazy purple shirt again.

Manami & Aja try to double-team to start, but Bull puts a stop to that and her team powerslams Manami onto the top rope, but Aja hits her double-cross-body to both, and it’s immediately a brawl outside the ring. And not just filler- Aja CRANKS Kyoko with a chair out there. Manami pounces, but eats a Slingshot Dropkick from Kyoko, and Bull fuckin’ Jannettys her with a lariat. They trap her in the ropes and hit repeated lariats, and Kyoko, still selling her head, does a fireman’s toss. Surfboard & Bull kicks her in the chest, but Aja returns the favor with a punt when Manami dropkick reversals out. Machine Gun slaps & Vader Attack put Kyoko down, then Manami holds a deathlock/bodylock and catapults her into Aja’s lariat, then AJA catapalts her into a missile dropkick! Manami Octopus Stretch & Aja hits a Gory Stretch of all things. Painful bullying from Aja (so weird to see Manami NOT the recipient of this), but Manami hits knees on a splash and they hit a double-inverted slingshot suplex! Bull’s Angelito! Beverly Brothers Leapfrog Move! The mother of all Brock Locks looks like it’s absolutely vivisecting her. HOW IS SHE EVEN ABLE TO WALK AFTER THAT SHIT?

Suplex, facebuster & legdrop to the spine but Manami keeps “Fuck YOU!!” bridging out. The only acceptable response is a spine-breaking crab-hold, and Kyoko hits the Giant Swing for thirty full seconds. Inverted figure-four as they’re just murdering her with insane rarities. After three more minutes of stretching, Bull whips her to the ropes and boom- Running No-Hands Springboard Cross-Body! lol, way to sell the back/legs. Aja’s in- Vader Attack is resisted! Bull’s Lariat misses- Uraken! Aja smashes her into the corner for a Toyota dropkick and a screaming avalanche, then stretches her out. She & Manami team up for falling headbutts of all things, then Manami hits a flying thing into a standing Bull, knocking her into her own corner. Kyoko & Manami hit their stuff on each other (2nd-rope missile kick; snap fallaway slam), and a Manami Roll gets two. Kyoko’s Slingshot Backsplash hits Manami & Aja, but Aja shoves her off from the Run-Up Back Elbow! Bull shoves MANAMI off the top, but when she tries a dive, Aja intercepts with a Vader Attack, and Manami hits a Run-Up Moonsault Suicida to Bull & Kyoko!

Moonsault misses in the ring, though… but Kyoko runs into the Rolling Cradle for two and NOW the Moonsault hits- Bull breaks it up. Kyoko avoids the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex but takes Bull’s lariat by mistake. Aja’s Mountain Bomb gets two, but she eats another Slingshot Backsplash! She tries the Niagara Driver, but Aja busts her with an Uraken & Backdrop Driver- Bull saves! Aja climbs, but Bull grabs her & Kyoko hits a Run-Up Super-Rana for two! Kyoko lariat & Bull brings out the nunchucks, but Manami dumps her from a Guillotine Legdrop attempt and hits a Running No-Hands Springboard Suicida… hitting Aja by mistake! Bull misses the Guillotine and Aja hits a Backdrop Driver for two. Manami goes for the J.O.S.C. like an idiot (I mean, come on now), but dodges a lariat and hits a German for two, but charges and Bull snags her… BULL’S POSEIDON! aka that crazy “Alabama Slam start-up but instead she just drops you head-first into the mat” thing that nobody has ever copied because even Darby Allin isn’t that crazy. Kyoko’s Gourdbuster sets up the Guillotine Legdrop to the spine, and that’s the three at (29:20).

Amazing match, even though they never quite hit that final gear for ages, doing mostly stretching, but it was INSANELY brutal stuff, just tearing into each other, so it was still vicious fun. But then they hit that final gear anyways and started building up to all of their finishers! So I was like “Well it’s probably four stars, but imagine if they were trying REALLY hard…” but then they actually started to, and it was as epic as you’d hope! Bull whipping out the Poseidon was awesome (a YouTube comment says this was its debut), especially as the other three didn’t use their super-finishers at all (yes, in 29 minutes they had enough stuff to not have to use their biggest offense).

Rating: ****1/2 (a lot of the best restholds in the game, but not nearly as padded as you might think in that timespan, and a great final seven minutes- just the best in the world doing their best)

Match Ratings:
Kumiko Maekawa vs. Miki Yokoe: DUD
Tomoko/ASARI vs. Chikako/Rie: *1/2
Ito/Minami vs. LCO: **1/2
Takako Inoue vs. Yumiko Hotta: **1/2
Sakie Hasegawa vs. Toshiyo Yamada: ****
Bull/Kyoko vs. Aja/Manami: ****1/4
-It was looking like a pretty minor “filler” show until the end, as both the final matches delivered in a huge way, proving that AJW could still do a great show even without JWP & LLPW involvement.